What is the difference between RAL Classic colors and RAL design system colors?

RAL DESIGN  is a color system containing 1,625 colors following the internationally recognized CIELab system. RAL CLASSIC, on the other hand, is a collection that was mainly formed due to industry requirements. RAL DESIGN color codes have seven digits, whereas RAL CLASSIC color codes only have four digits.

The revised RAL DESIGN System

Do RAL Design colors – like RAL Classic colors – have color names in addition to the color shade number?

No. Here, the colors are systematically spread in the CIELab color space and the number of the color indicates the location in the color space. An unambiguous labeling is therefore ensured.

How are the colour numbers of the RAL Design system composed?

The RAL DESIGN System uses the first three digits to identify the hue H, the following first pair of digits defines the lightness L while the second pair identifies the chroma C. For example, the RAL DESIGN System color 270 30 20 is a dark blue with a hue H of 270, a lightness L of 30 and a chroma C of 20.

Special attention should be paid in this respect to the designation of non-colored grey shades, as they have a hue of H = 0. The initial three zeros have to be indicated and cannot be dropped, because otherwise this could lead to confusion with a RAL CLASSIC colour shade. So, for example, the RAL DESIGN System color 000 90 00 is a white shade (hue H = 0 and chroma C = 0) and it is not the designation of a RAL CLASSIC color using the code 9000.

Are the RAL Classic colors included in the RAL Design system?

No. RAL CLASSIC and RAL DESIGN are very different, independent product lines. Due to similar colour values, there are similar (not exactly the same)RAL DESIGN colors matching a RAL CLASSIC color. Of course, RAL CLASSIC colors can also be shown or found in the CIELab colour space.

Does the RAL Design color system meet a standard or an agreement?

The structure of the RAL DESIGN System follows the internationally accepted L*a*b* color measuring system developed by CIE (Commission Internationale d’Eclairage) in 1976.

In this system, value a represents the red-green axis (negative values for green, positive ones for red), value b represents the yellow-blue axis (negative values for blue, positive ones for yellow) and L represents the lightness (zero stands for the ideal black while 100 represents the ideal white). The grey or neutral point lies at a = b = 0. The CIELab formula is described in DIN 6174.

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